It’s one of those nights again where I can’t get any sleep. I’ve been thinking about this lately and decided to use this time under the disappointingly clouded night-sky to type it all down. Heeereeee it goes:
I was re-introduced to esoterism at the age of 14. I say reintroduced because I’m sure I’ve studied it before, in my past lives. I was raised Protestant Christian (my mother’s influence on the household) in a Catholic country, with a non-practicing Catholic father. I grew up religious. I read a lot of fantasy books growing up, a lot of epic novels. I played a lot of sports (still do so). I was a normal kid with a happy, healthy life.
The shift came when my first boyfriend lent me a few of his books on Metaphysics.
There was one fundamental idea in those books that changed the way I looked at things, and it was this: There’s another reality beyond the physical reality that we can approach in the form of ideas, and when we engage with these ideas, new neural pathways are formed in the brain, which in turn influences how we behave, which directly affects our reality. In other words, our thoughts create our reality.
He also lent me a book called The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy about the seven principles of existence. The Kybalion was authored by the “Three Initiates” (whoever they are), and its seven principles of existence are:
1. Mentalism: The ALL is MIND—The Universe is mental.
2. Correspondence: As above, so below, as below so above.
3. Vibration: Nothing rests, everything moves, everything vibrates.
4. Polarity: Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet, all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.
5. Rhythm: Everything flows, all things rise and fall.
6. Cause and Effect: Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.
7. Gender: Everything has its masculine and feminine principles, gender manifests on ALL planes.
I started viewing the world through the lens of these seven principles of existence and saw that it was true—these are the laws of reality.
About a year later, a friend invited me to a philosophical organization with strong theosophical inclinations. It was in this school that I was introduced to Madame Blavatsky. I read all of her Isis Unveiled, which is a torrent of information. It was during this time that I also started reading Plato and studying all different kinds of religions.
A guy from this school was studying Blavatsky’s cosmogenesis (the creation of the cosmos) from her Secret Doctrine. While doing so he had come across some research regarding Anthropogenesis (the creation of mankind) from an Austrian philosopher called Rudolf Steiner.
This guy told me that Rudolf Steiner thought that before understanding the creation of the world it was imperative that we understand the creation of man, because the cosmos is so complex that we cannot firmly grasp how it’s built before understanding ourselves first. This, he told me, was only one of the many ideological differences between Theosophy and Anthroposophy, the esoteric movement founded by Rudolf Steiner… another main difference being that Rudolf Steiner believed that man could become an initiate without necessarily having a guru to guide him every step of the way.
I was intrigued, but not enough to start my own research on the subject.
When I turned 17 I dropped out of the organization, mainly because I felt it was infringing on my freedom and because I wasn’t willing to accept their dogma. The guy who had introduced me to Rudolf Steiner also dropped out because of ideological differences. I ended up marrying him 5 years later, actually. His name is Miguel (Michael in Spanish).
Around the time I turned 18, Miguel went on a business trip to Argentina and came back with a present to me: the book An Outline of Occult Science by Rudolf Steiner.
He wasn’t studying Anthroposophy, but he saw this book on his visit to the library and was reminded of what he’d read about Steiner. He knew that Occult Science was one of Steiner’s major works, and that I had been talking a lot about human freedom and about the idea that we don’t necessarily need a guru to become enlightened, that we could find out the truth for ourselves. So Miguel bought it for me thinking I would resonate with the material.
I read it… and it was dense. Even for me, who had read Isis Unveiled. But from the little I understood, I knew something was there. And I continued to be intrigued. Very intrigued. Here was an occultist who was taking an entirely new approach to this kind of knowledge, a western approach. I had studied so much eastern spirituality that this was refreshing. This man was a scientist. He was logical, not mystical.
I read some of Steiner’s other books, including The Fifth Gospel, several times during the course of three years. I also read some of his lectures.
The understanding of Steiner’s Fifth Gospel led to a profound and very emotional return to Christianity for me, which I had abandoned at 14 when I first started studying esotericism and accepted all religions as truth. In a way, Steiner helped me rediscover my faith. But even though I admired him immensely as an occultist and I gave credit to his work for my return to Christianity, I didn’t consider myself an anthroposophist.
Then, quite accidentally, I stumbled upon a book in college that once again changed things for me entirely. I was 21 years old at the time.
I remember the class, Maritime Law. The professor was droning on and on about things that were already in the textbook, so I zoned out and started surfing the Internet with the campus’s free WiFi on my MAC while pretending to take notes.
I went to amazon.com and typed ‘Rudolf Steiner’ in the search box, and started scrolling. I saw a book with a pretty cool drawing, very impressionist in my opinion, and I clicked on it.
How to Know Higher Worlds
I googled the book. There was a free .pdf available. I started reading immediately.
The book stirred a deep vocation in me for the Spirit. This was the path! This is the manual, the guide. Finally I found it, a Path of Initiation into the Mysteries that I could follow and also profoundly understand.
And it was a noble path. The first chapter speaks of cultivating Reverence, or deep admiration for everything that is true and good and beautiful. Deep admiration for those powers and forces who are superior to us and who seek to guide us into the truth. It also speaks of loving your neighbor, of working for the world, of being of service to others.
As I said, I am a kid who grew up on stories like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, epic brave fantasy novels. This means I grew up aware of the fight of good versus evil and of the importance of heroic, virtuous acts. For me How To Know Higher Worlds is the path of the JEDI.
If I liked Rudolf Steiner before, this book took it to a whole other level. From that point on, I started downloading, buying, and reading Steiner e-books on my amazon kindle e-reader. I basically read everything on the market.
All of this led me to become an anthroposophist. Not suddenly, but gradually, after prolonged thought and inner questioning about whether this was the philosophy I wanted to follow the rest of my life. And it was. I remember the day I declared it to myself: “I am an anthroposophist”.
I have read HTKHW easily more than 15 times in the span of the last 4 years (I am 25 now). I pick it up and read through it about every four months or so.
The book feels different every time I pick it up. Or I’m in a different mood, or something. Sometimes I read new sections with an expanded comprehension. Other times I unravel things I hadn’t understood, or thought I understood but really didn’t. One time, even, I read over an entire three pages of information that I had totally glazed over before. And good information, too, about the etheric currents surrounding our bodies and hands.
My relationship with this book keeps evolving. I follow the exercises, but not perfectly. There’s a part in the book where Steiner says that what matters isn’t that we’re perfect, but that we always have the intention of striving towards the Spirit and of working on ourselves honestly. That’s what I try to do, every day.
As for the clairvoyance?
Well, there’s another part in the book where it says that if we still don’t understand what we’re seeing, then the less we try to define it to ourselves or explain it to others, the better. That way we don’t form judgments and our mind remains flexible for when we absorb more information in the future, and start seeing the whole picture and are able to understand it all.
Also, the desire for clairvoyance, to want to be clairvoyant just for the sake of seeing stuff in the spiritual worlds, is a selfish desire and the higher powers constantly retreat from it. In other words, the more you want it, the more you’ll be denied it. You have to focus on the exercises because you want to develop yourself and be of service to the world. The clairvoyance is secondary.
As a hypothetical example, let’s say that I possess some form of clairvoyance, however rudimentary or dim. If I admitted it publicly it would serve little more than boasting, and the emotion behind this boasting would be pride. As a result of this pride, the perception would retreat. Perhaps for days, even weeks. That’s just how it works.
If I could condense the entire practical wisdom of this book in 4 exercises, they would be the following:
1. OBSERVATION: Observe yourself and others. Detach yourself from your opinions and study the world as objectively as possible.
2. MEDITATION: Retreat into the spiritual worlds. Make time in your day where you separate the essential from the inessential, the transcendental (Spirit) versus the untrascendental (Form).
3. CONTEMPLATION: Think about your actions, your feelings, and your thoughts. Judge yourself fairly, from a third person perspective. If you can’t judge yourself with honesty, how will you grow?
4. REVERENCE: Devotion to higher forces, concepts, principles, truths. Continuous attention and focus on everything virtuous and worthy of respect.
There are also practical exercises like the observation of plants, stones, animals, sounds, conversations, and human activity to develop clairvoyant faculties, as well as an in-depth explanation of all of the soul qualities necessary to develop the throat and heart chakras so that they start rotating and we can actively participate in greater currents of energy. The Buddha’s eightfold path actually fully develops one of these two chakras, I can’t remember which.
In conclusion, How To Know Higher Worlds is not only my favorite book, but also the one that has had the most impact in my life as a spiritual seeker, and definitely the book that led me to declaring myself an anthroposophist. It is the manual that I hope to continue to use until the moment of my death, and I hope to absorb and interiorize as many truths from it as possible to take with me to my next life.
I’m starting to realize other people don’t necessarily think the same way I do. I know this sounds foolish, but it’s the truth. For example, I’m starting to realize that maybe some people don’t even think about their next lives, or what they want to take over from this life into the next one. For some people the term ‘occultism’ might even cause discomfort. Or pupilhood, or initiates or even mysteries.
Since I spent my entire adolescence familiarizing myself with these terms, and also terms like guru, master and discipleship; terms taken out of the traditional esoteric schools of wisdom that originated in ancient times, these terms don’t cause me any kind of discomfort, but I’m starting to emotionally understand that others might have different approaches to this. So I ask you to please try to understand from my point of view what it was like, just like I will try to understand yours.
In contrast, Steiner’s whole approach to esotericism initially struck me as very ‘laissez-faire’. But it was a difference that I quickly grew to love as I became more aware of what initiation meant on the western path. Just to illustrate –
This was my experience of the concept of initiation with theosophy:
Teacher: The only path of initiation into the mysteries is through a guru, through the path of discipleship. Blavatsky had her gurus, Koot Hoomi and Lord Moria, and we have to work on ourselves and wait patiently for a master to appear and lead the way.
This was my experience of the concept of initiation with anthroposophy:
Steiner: Hey, girl. You’ve been reading through my stuff and I’ve noticed you’re interested in the path of initiation into the mysteries. Want some tools so you can get to know them yourself?
Me: Yeah! Cool!
Steiner: Okay. I’m going to tell you because you deserve it. But you have to use this knowledge for good and not for selfish reasons. And I’m not your master. I won’t ever tell you what to do, that’s up to you. But I am your friend. (introduces How To Know Higher Worlds)
Me: Wow. Thanks, you rock.
And the book slowly started to change things. Which I will not go into now.
As to my status as an ‘occult pupil’, or an active seeker of the Spirit, or an aspirant to the mysteries, or an esoteric scholar, or a JEDI, or you get what I’m saying… as to how I’m doing in THAT field…
I’m one of the kids in the back of the room getting into trouble instead of focusing on the class, which is such a shame because I could be an A+ student but instead I’m just scraping by with C’s. That’s my status. And I’m okay with it, because hey, at least I know the material well enough that I’m not flunking.